Simulation Challenges Students to Explore Complexities of U.S.-Mexico Border Issue

February 17th, 2017 by 


Students explore U.S.-Mexico border issues at annual Presidential Scholar Symposium. Photo by: Bridget Franco

Fifteen Holy Cross students — from a range of class years and disciplines — spent a recent Saturday taking on a current hot-button topic: the U.S.-Mexico border issue. As a part of the Presidential Scholars Symposium, the students participated in a simulation where they adopted the roles of Mexican and U.S. government officials and special interest groups to resolve issues of undocumented immigration, drug trafficking, and cartel violence affecting people on both sides of the border. From playing the president of Mexico to the U.S. secretary of homeland security to an environmental protection representative, the students were challenged to intimately explore the real issues faced by both countries while honing their negotiation skills in a high pressure, time-sensitive environment.

From the outside, resolving the border issue seemed manageable, but once they got down to it, students came to understand just how complex the issue is and faced some surprising hurdles. Hear from them below.

An Immersive Experience

“The simulation made the various U.S./Mexico issues much more tangible. Physically being immersed in the mindset of someone with a completely different view as me allowed me to expand my conditioned brain and therefore I started to better understand the complexity of the U.S. and Mexico relations. I particularly enjoyed the sense of power and the differential control groups and majorities that began to form. It really made the situation feel real.” – Christopher Minteer ’17, chemistry major

Understanding the Powers at Play

“I was assigned to one of the more marginalized characters in the simulation, playing the role of Javier Sicilia, a Mexican poet-turned-activist whose son was murdered in an act of gang violence. I found myself frustrated by the fact that in negotiations with people like the U.S. president and Mexican army general, my concerns for peace and human rights seemed trivial in light of national security concerns and economic development proposals. This helped me to experience firsthand the ways that power and status play out in political negotiations.

“I oftentimes have a hard time understanding why those in power do not always stand up for the poor and powerless, and the border simulation allowed me to see that those people are not necessarily ‘evil,’ but rather, have their own competing interests that prevent them from making the changes in the name of social justice. My character’s task was to highlight the ways that the health and safety of the citizens on both sides of the border is indeed in the political interests of all the delegates — a task that I believe all of us at Holy Cross and beyond should be working for.” – Marie Therese Kane ’18, international studies major

Navigating Competing Core Interests

“My role was the environmental protection representative from the Sierra Club, and during my preparation I needed to create a poster on how border walls/fencing have caused serious environmental damage. However, it was only after the simulation started that I started to gradually notice that I was the only one whose interests would be directly harmed by the building of the border wall. For most other players, having a wall with entry points wouldn’t necessarily harm their interests. This made it really hard for me to get allies towards the end, and as I expected, even people I considered as allies eventually compromised to the building of the border wall for their core interests in the project.” – Xinyi Zeng ’17, environmental studies major, geosciences minor

Lessons Learned

“Although I did not leave the symposium with any answers to the border, cartel, and drug problems Mexico and America face, I did leave with an understanding that we need to face them together. By our power and prosperity, America is afforded a privileged opportunity to help those in need. By helping our southern neighbor combat this drug and cartel problem, we help ourselves.” – William Ford ’19, international studies major

The annual symposium provides an intellectually challenging forum for Presidential Scholars, who hold academic merit scholarships, to explore issues of public policy with their peers. Previous topics have included the college admissions process, global warming, U.S. immigration, global health issues, domestic violence, genocide prevention and the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. 

This year’s symposium was led by Bridget Franco, assistant professor of Spanish, and facilitated by Susan Elizabeth Sweeney, director of the College Honors Program and the College Scholar Programs, and professor of English

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Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 404
Visit Crusader Connections to learn more about opportunities at GE...
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Nielsen Meet & Greet
9/27/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406
Meet & Greet to learn about the Nielsen Company and finance internships...
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Meredith Terretta Lecture
9/27/2017
Africana Studies
Smith Laboratories 154
Open to the Public
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Gabrielle Thierry: The Musicality of the Water Lilies
9/27/2017
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery will present the paintings...
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Putnam Investments On-Campus Interviews
9/27/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 405
Apply in Crusader Connections for opportunities with Putnam Investments!...
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Stickwork: Patrick Dougherty, "Just Off the Beaten Track," 2016
9/27/2017
Arts Transcending Borders (ATB)
Lawn by Linden Lane
In September 2016, Arts Transcending Borders (ATB), in association with the Cantor...
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Environmental Studies Alumni Career Panel
9/28/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 408(09)
Come hear Holy Cross Environmental Studies alums talk about their...
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Gabrielle Thierry: The Musicality of the Water Lilies
9/28/2017
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery will present the paintings...
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Stickwork: Patrick Dougherty, "Just Off the Beaten Track," 2016
9/28/2017
Arts Transcending Borders (ATB)
Lawn by Linden Lane
In September 2016, Arts Transcending Borders (ATB), in association with the Cantor...
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Gabrielle Thierry: The Musicality of the Water Lilies
9/29/2017
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery will present the paintings...
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Stickwork: Patrick Dougherty, "Just Off the Beaten Track," 2016
9/29/2017
Arts Transcending Borders (ATB)
Lawn by Linden Lane
In September 2016, Arts Transcending Borders (ATB), in association with the Cantor...
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Gabrielle Thierry: The Musicality of the Water Lilies
9/30/2017
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery Open to the Public
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery 2
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery will present the paintings...
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Stickwork: Patrick Dougherty, "Just Off the Beaten Track," 2016
9/30/2017
Arts Transcending Borders (ATB)
Lawn by Linden Lane
In September 2016, Arts Transcending Borders (ATB), in association with the Cantor...
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Male Involvement Coalition (MIC)
10/2/2017
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
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Women in Finance Panel & Networking Event
10/2/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite A/B/C -4th Fl
Hors d'oeuvres and networking following by an alumnae...
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Gabrielle Thierry: The Musicality of the Water Lilies
10/2/2017
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery will present the paintings...
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Deloitte On-Campus Interviews
10/2/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 404
Visit Crusader Connections to learn more about opportunities at Deloitte...
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National Depression Screening Day
10/3/2017
Counseling Center
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 5
Open to Campus Community Only
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National Depression Screening Day
10/3/2017
Counseling Center
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 4
Open to Campus Community Only
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National Depression Screening Day
10/3/2017
Counseling Center
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 3
Open to Campus Community Only
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National Depression Screening Day
10/3/2017
Counseling Center
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 2
Open to Campus Community Only
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Gabrielle Thierry: The Musicality of the Water Lilies
10/3/2017
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery will present the paintings...
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RSM On-Campus Recruiting
10/3/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 408
Apply in Crusader Connections for opportunities with RSM! Open to Campus...
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RSM On-Campus Recruiting
10/3/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407
Apply in Crusader Connections for opportunities with RSM! Open to Campus...
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Lecture: Julie Rubio on Hope for Common Ground
10/4/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
In the current political climate, common ground can seem impossible...
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7 C's of Social Change (Event canceled)
10/4/2017
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 304(05)
Open to Campus Community Only
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Gabrielle Thierry: The Musicality of the Water Lilies
10/4/2017
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery will present the paintings...
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Silicon Valley Bank On-Campus Interviews
10/4/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 405
Apply in Crusader Connections for opportunities with Silicon Valley...
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Race: The Power of an Illusion Part 2
10/5/2017
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 519
*Episode II – “The Story We Tell” uncovers the roots...
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Gabrielle Thierry: The Musicality of the Water Lilies
10/5/2017
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery will present the paintings...
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EY On-Campus Interviews
10/5/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407
Apply in Crusader Connections to interview on campus with EY! Open...
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EY On-Campus Interviews
10/5/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406
Apply in Crusader Connections to interview on campus with EY! Open...
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EY On-Campus Interviews
10/5/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 405
Apply in Crusader Connections to interview on campus with EY! Open...
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EY On-Campus Interviews
10/5/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 403
Apply in Crusader Connections to interview on campus with EY! Open...
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Gabrielle Thierry: The Musicality of the Water Lilies
10/6/2017
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery will present the paintings...
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Gabrielle Thierry: The Musicality of the Water Lilies
10/7/2017
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery Open to the Public
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery 2
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery will present the paintings...
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Finance Boot Camp 2017
10/9/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Edith Stein Hall 208
Open to Campus Community Only
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Finance Boot Camp 2017
10/10/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Smith Laboratories 155
Open to Campus Community Only
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Male Involvement Coalition (MIC)
10/16/2017
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Lecture: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz on Googling for Hate
10/16/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Open to the Public
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Lecture: Kevin Esvelt on Gene Editing
10/16/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Kimball Hall Seelos Theater
When should we edit nature? Kevin Esvelt, assistant professor of M.I.T....
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Carney, Sandoe & Assoc. Info Session
10/16/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 304
Learn more about K-12 Teaching and Administrative positions at private...
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Carney, Sandoe & Assoc. On-Campus Interviews
10/17/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 404
Apply in Crusader Connections for K-12 Teaching and Administrative...
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Reading by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
10/18/2017
English
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Open to the Public
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William James College Info Session - Careers in Psychology and Behavioral Health
10/18/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407
Come to this info session presented by Dr. Bruce Ecker of William James...
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Conference: Rethinking the Afropolitan
10/19/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
This conference, being held Oct. 19-21, "Rethinking the Afropolitan:...
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Fidelity Investments On-Campus Recruiting
10/20/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 405
Visit Crusader Connections to learn more about and apply for opportunities...
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Fidelity Investments On-Campus Recruiting
10/20/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 404
Visit Crusader Connections to learn more about and apply for opportunities...
See More >>


Conference: Rethinking the Afropolitan
10/20/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
This conference, being held Oct. 19-21, "Rethinking the Afropolitan:...
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Conference: Rethinking the Afropolitan
10/21/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
This conference, being held Oct. 19-21, "Rethinking the Afropolitan:...
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COES Dinner
10/23/2017
COES Professional Program & Prebusiness Program
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite A - 4th Fl
Open to Campus Community Only
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Book Launch: Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Jesuits
10/23/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Help us commemorate the newly published Cambridge Encyclopedia...
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Athlete Alumni Networking Night
10/24/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite B/C - 4th Fl
The Holy Cross Career Crusaders Networking Night is...
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Athlete Alumni Networking Night
10/24/2017
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite A - 4th Fl
The Holy Cross Career Crusaders Networking Night is a...
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Lecture: Charles Camosy Looks Beyond the Abortion Wars
10/24/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Charles Camosy, associate professor of theology at Fordham University,...
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Washington Semester Program Information Session
10/24/2017
Center for Interdisciplinary Studies
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
The Washington Semester Program is a highly competitive, semester-long...
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Open Enrollment Assistance
10/24/2017
Human Resources
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 410 - Computer Lab
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


7 C's of Social Change
10/31/2017
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Lecture: Alan Rosen on Jewish Religious Life and Practice During the Holocaust
11/1/2017
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Alan Rosen, Kraft-Hiatt scholar-in-residence, will give a talk...
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Poetry Reading by Gabrielle Calvocoressi
11/2/2017
English
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Open to the Public
See More >>


Black Student Union Presents "Griot"
11/3/2017
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Ballroom & Dunn Rcpt
Open to the Public
See More >>


Open Enrollment Assistance
11/3/2017
Human Resources
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 410 - Computer Lab
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Creating an Inclusive Campus: Skills and Practice
11/6/2017
Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 402(03)
This workshop will take diversity and inclusion from theory to...
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Race: The Power of an Illusion Part 3
11/10/2017
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 519
*Episode III – “The House We Live In” focuses not...
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Matthew Hughey Lecture
11/13/2017
Africana Studies
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Open to the Public
See More >>


Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu
11/15/2017
Asian Studies
Dinand Library Levis Browsing Room
Open to the Public
See More >>


"I Can't Remember What I Just Read!"
11/16/2017
Academic Services and Learning Resources
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(07)
Learn strategies to focus your attention and get more out of the...
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Open Enrollment Assistance
11/21/2017
Human Resources
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 410 - Computer Lab
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Study Smarter, Not Harder!
11/28/2017
Academic Services and Learning Resources
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 408(09)
Why is it so hard to remember what you just heard in lecture or...
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See All